… than most real life interactions. It’s startling but true. Lately I just can’t seem to dredge up any enthusiasm for the “hello, how ya doing” of daily life. I feel I have less and less in common with my “real friends” as I build stronger connections with my blogging buddies. Every conversation I have with a new “mom friend” is the same and I’m impatient to get past the pleasantries to meatier, more interesting topics. Basically I’ve become somewhat bored with my “real life” relationships while my blogging community continues to captivate me.
Three recent posts (the first on struggling with the niceties by Bloodsigns, one on adult relationships by amoment2think and the other by Mo on her virtual persona) have inspired me to examine my own relationship to the blog world and how it affects my satisfaction with my IRL friends. Hopefully in doing so I will better understand why I feel so comfortable projecting myself on my blog and can cultivate what feel like such deep and meaningful relationships through that writing but find almost all of my in real life friendships sorely lacking.
** Before I start I want to include a disclaimer. I take at least partial, if not full, responsibility for any dysfunction of past friendships. I am not so self-centered as to assume it’s ALL my past friends and not me. **
First a little background. My close IRL friendships have consistently been marked with a certain quality, that of me wanting more from my friends than they were able or willing to give. My whole life I’ve also been drawn to writing. Filling journals with my thoughts got me through my tumultuous teens and twenties, which were filled with diagnosed depression, anxiety and eating disorder issues. In a way writing became my best friend, it was the only place I could be completely honest.
Then started TTC. None of my friends were on that path yet, and many weren’t sure if they ever would walk it. They couldn’t fathom my impatience or anxiety and understandably had very little to contribute to a conversation on the topic of family building. After my loss the distance that was already growing between me and my friends increased exponentially. I felt they didn’t understand my pain and were unable to give me the support I needed (though I wonder now if it was actually I who lacked the ability to ask for what I needed). While my friends lacked the language of loss, I lacked the language of normal life. I was so devastated by my own pain that I was unable to support my friends or celebrate with them. Once again I retreated into myself.
Two months after my ectopic I started this blog at the urging of some “friends” on my TTC After Loss board. Suddenly the journal writing that had once been my lonely emotional outlet was a connection to other women who wrote and responded not because they felt obligated by friendship but because what I said was relevant to their own experiences. Our common stories and interests bonded us together so effortlessly, the physical distance (and lack of physical contact) between us felt negligible.
As I wrote more I gained skill and confidence. I began enjoying writing for the simple experience of it. My blog evolved from a daily journal into a platform to discuss issues I cared about. Eventually I was tacking complex topics like motherhood, family, friendship, personal identity and I was writing not only or myself but for my readers.
Around this time I really started participating on other people’s blogs. Inspired by the intriguing posts of my fellow writers I fashioned careful responses to their thought provoking questions. I began to take part in the on-line conversation. Blogging became my intellectual outlet; one that allowed me to consider, and comment critically on, issues and with other smart, like-minded, well-spoken women. This is what drew me in every day, the community of women who shared my interests and had the passion and drive to participate in intellectual conversations about them.
When you have the opportunity to read a well written essay on a topic that inspires you (and by an author you respect) and then can participate in a conversation inspired by that essay, the every day shooting-the-shit kind of conversations pale in comparison.
Over time I think I’ve become addicted not only to the arena of the blogosphere but also the medium of writing. When I write I have the time to think about what I intend to say and articulate my thoughts just so; there are few mistakes and I rarely misspeak. I love being able to say whatever I want in whatever way I want to say it. I don’t have to worry about the person across from me being interested or having a common experience. If they do they can keep reading (and hopefully comment), if not they can move on. On my blog the constrictions of “real life” interactions don’t apply. I am free.
Of course other, positive, aspects of real life interactions also don’t apply. No one responds immediately to what I say. Without a face to face conversation the organic back and forth that fosters new insight and deeper understanding is lost. The topic can’t change spontaneously to something distinct but equally wonderful and thought provoking. In the end I can’t share a hot tea with someone sitting in front of their computer, reading something I wrote hours or even days before.
The best of both worlds is to sit across from a fellow blogger whom I know and love. I’ve done this before and it’s truly magical; the resulting exchange is the best of both worlds. Unfortunately no bloggers live close enough to see frequently, which means most of the time I have to settle for people I haven’t “read”, who take time and effort to get to know and might not want to talk about whatever might be swirling around in my head. In fact, we might not share any common interests whatsoever. In blogland anyone who shares my interests, anywhere in the world can be my friend. In real life I have to find someone who lives near me and happens to be passionate about that which inspires me. The laws of statistics and probability dictate the chances are much smaller of finding a “true friend” in real life.
So what is a girl to do? Obviously the blogosphere provides a community that I find both socially and intellectually satisfying. I will continue to participate in that discourse through comments and my own posts. I also believe I can’t live solely in this online space. I need to go out and meet other women and I know I would cherish finding a true friend I could see frequently. This will take some time (and might never happen) but I’m willing, and able, to put in the hours and the effort. I’m willing to make the attempt. Hopefully, someday, I can find a healthy balance between my blog life and my “real” life, one where I can express myself honestly and passionately in both.
What do you love about our blogging community? Do you ever prefer the blogosphere over real life social interactions?